9945 DEPICTION OF HUMAN VICES BY GEORG EMANUEL OPIZ Prague 1775 – 1841 Leipzig. Measurements: Height: 10″ (25.4 cm) Width: 8 1/4″ (22.2 cm)
Watercolor on paper.
Signed Opiz. inv. del.
Sold by C.G. Boerner; Leipzig, Auktion 13, November 1924, No. 346
Georg Emanuel Opiz (1775-1841) was born in Prague, where he entered the Akademische Gymnasiumin in 1789, and studied drawing and painting under Franz Karl Wolf (1764-1836). In 1793 he went to the Academy of Arts in Dresden where he continued his training under Giovanni Battista Casanova. Between 1798 and 1805, Opiz traveled throughout Germany and Austria, making his way to Hamburg, Bremen, Vienna, and Carlsbad, where he found work painting wealthy spa guests, and genre scenes of bourgeois social life. In 1814 Opiz moved to Paris, where he painted scenes from the Napoleonic wars, including the Russian occupation of Paris. From 1820 onwards he lived in Leipzig, where he worked as an artist as well as teaching as a Professor at the Kunstakademie. He also worked for the magazine Urania, producing genre scenes until his death in 1841.
Opiz created numerous series about everyday urban life in Vienna, Paris, and Leipzig. His style followed the tradition of caricaturists, such as William Hogarth, as well as erotic Japanese woodblock prints. “Although his paintings are often laden with satire and social commentary, their warmth and charm is undeniable.”1
In the present painting, Opiz explores the subject of human vices, particularly gluttony and lust. The wagon of a well dressed holiday party has fallen off the road in the countryside. One man attempts to regain control of the horses, while the remaining passengers and their picnic tumble into the grass by the wayside. The spectator is implied with the interpretation of the crash victims’ “accidental” poses.
1. Strachan, Edward, and Roy Bolton. Views of Russia and Russian Works on Paper. London: Sphinx Books, 2010. 230.